Monday, December 17, 2012
So Far Away
As I mentioned in my last blog entry, staying in the boarding school meant that we got to know Cava and the other children better than if we had stayed somewhere else and made visits. We spent more time with our son, especially as he would show up at our room at any time, such as when he was supposed to be in school doing his lessons. When he strode in, I asked him, "Cava, aren't you supposed to be at your lessons?" He just looked at me sheepishly. Benjamin and I then walked him back to his classroom. Once there, the teacher said, "Good. Cava. You're here."
He always came into our room with the stride of someone who belongs there. Each time, he had that photo album we gave him. One of his favorite things to do was look through it with us and point out each one of us in it. "Papa," he'd smile and point to a picture of me. He also loved showing the album off to the other children, who would congregate around him just to see the photos. One thing Cava didn't like was for other children to touch it. That photo album, like us, were for him and him alone. In fact, he was so possessive of us, if other children tried to congregate at the door to our room, he would quickly close it with, "My family!"
One morning, he found my glasses and put them on. He called to me, "Papa." When I looked, he smiled, pointed to himself, and said, "I'm Papa."
He liked to draw in my sketchbook. One of his drawings was of four figures that he told us was a picture of his family. Cava pointed to the tiniest figure and said, "Cava." The figure next to it was, "Ben." The one with long hair was "Mama." And the biggest figure was "Papa."
Something he loved was for us to hug him, as well as him hugging us. One of the reasons he liked to climb up to the top bunk and stand on the edge (other than him being a very active boy) was for one of us to catch him and swing him down. Once, I did this but then held him to me and began to rock him as if he were a baby. As I did this, he just stared at me with a look of pure contentment. When we first met Cava, in the lawyer's office, we noticed that he rocked himself a little back and forth to self-soothe himself. So this may have been the first time that anyone had ever rocked him before.
Needless to say, it was heartbreaking when it came time for us to leave the boarding school to return to Kiev. Luda, our facilitator and translator, knelt down when Cava was sitting on his bed to be at his eye level and told him that we would be leaving but not leaving him. The whole time she spoke to him, Cava didn't look up but looked down at the floor. Every so often she would ask him if he understood and he would nod that he did, but as much as he nodded, being a little boy, we knew that he didn't fully understand.
When it came time to pack our luggage into Leonid's van, Danelle was outside talking to another American who was there, while I went up to retrieve a couple of the suitcases at a time. Before I could take even one, Cava put himself over one and said in Ukrainian, "Don't leave me behind." It was all I could do not to break down into tears right then and there. I picked him up and held Cava to me. "We will come back for you, Cava. You are part of our family. You are my son." I just held him against me so he could feel my heart beating. And I kissed him. "We love you Cava."
As I took the suitcases down, Cava would lean out the open window of our room to call down, "Mama! Papa!" He wanted us to notice him and smile back.
All of us hugged and kissed and told Cava we loved him. We walked him back to his room. Once there, he ran into his room to be with his friends.
As we were getting into the van, I spotted the little girl who'd drawn her heart watching. There was such a sadness to her as she waved and I waved back.
It wasn't long after we'd left the orphanage that I couldn't hold it in any longer and began to cry. I hated leaving Cava, as well as the other children. Just as the little girl had said her heart was mine, my heart was theirs. Even when we leave this country, part of my heart will always be here with those children.
As I'm writing this, Carol King's "So Far Away" begins to play and she sings, "So far away / Doesn't anyone stay in one place anymore? / It would be so fine to see your face at my door . . ." Hearing this brings tears to my eyes as I think of little Cava coming to the door of our room everyday. Carol continues sing, "Holding you again could only do me good / How I wish I could . . ."
Never has a 4 hour drive felt so far away.